Social Media Guidelines

Willamette University encourages students, employees, parents, alumni, prospective students and community members to use social media to enhance learning, facilitate discussion, communicate news and build community.

The Social Media Advisory Committee met during the 2016–17 academic year to formulate the university’s social media guidelines. Based upon current university policies governing behavior, copyright, confidentiality, etc., these guidelines are a working document that will change as social media evolve.

Community members who produce content for, comment on and manage social media affiliated with Willamette are asked to follow these guidelines.

If you’re starting a new social media account affiliated with Willamette, contact Tom Mayhall Rastrelli, director of digital communications. He will be happy to help you evaluate which social media best fit your needs.

New Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube Accounts

If you are interested in starting one of these accounts, please contact Tom Mayhall Rastrelli, director of digital communications, before starting your own account. There may be options for you to contribute videos to to Willamette's main YouTube and TikTok accounts or to takeover the Snapchat account.

New Student Organization Accounts

See the Student Organization Handbook for instructions.

New Departmental or Office Accounts

All pages owned by a department or office must register their account information, including content curators’ information with Willamette’s Social Media Directory. Changes in account administration must be updated regularly.

For more information, see Willamette’s Social Media Directory’s best practices and conditions.

All social media pages that are owned by a university department or office and linked to from must be registered with the Social Media Directory and adhere to the conditions for being listed on the directory.

  • This is so people are referred to active social media pages and so the director of digital communications may assist page administrators in the rare case of an emergency, such as a page being hacked.
  • Changes in account administrators and content curators must be reported to the director of digital communications via as they occur.

Student organizations are governed by the Office of Student Activities and the Student Organization Handbook.

Current and updated contact information for all page administrators must be provided to the director of digital communications.

For platforms, such as Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, with a single username and password for all administrators:

  • Accounts must be registered with an email address.
  • Account recovery preferences must be set up using the same email address.
  • At least two Willamette employees in the department, office or group that owns the account, must have access to each account’s password.

For platforms, such as Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn, where pages are curated by administrators who sign into the platform via personal accounts:

  • Each page must have at least three administrators.
  • At least two administrators must be Willamette University employees, preferably in the department or office that owns the account.
  • The director of digital communications can serve as a second administrator but will not interfere with the page except by request or in case of emergency.
  • Students and alumni may only serve as moderators and editors. They can not be administrators with the ability to assign and remove other administrators from the account.

Whether you’re making comments or moderating them, these guidelines are meant to assist you.

Emergency Situations

If commenters threaten harm to anyone including themselves, users and administrators should immediately call Campus Safety at 503-370-6911 (24 hours per day).

Nonemergency Situations

Take a screenshot of the inappropriate content. Email it and any pertinent information describing the situation to the director of digital communications at

Post Curation

Administrators are page curators. They give life and personality to an account. They keep posts and comments upbeat, inquisitive, helpful and interactive. They put Willamette’s best face forward.

Engage your followers.

  • Affirm followers.
  • Like their comments.
  • Thank users who share photos, links, etc.

Be positive and helpful.

  • When replying to questions, identify yourself and your role, so commenters know who the person behind the account is.
  • Refer commenters with questions to the appropriate person, department or organization.

Don’t delete negative comments, unless they fall into the categories defining “offensive and inappropriate comments” below.

  • When appropriate, send commenters a private message to discuss a critical comment.
  • If commenters are not friendly to dialog, wish them well and move on. If they persist, you may chose to block them from posting.

Write in the voice of your office, department or organization.

  • Save your opinions for your personal social media accounts.

For post ideas, follow other Willamette accounts and other schools.

  • Search online for the best college social media posts. See what's trending.
  • Look at what works for accounts with audiences similar to yours.
  • Experiment and then watch your metrics to see which types of posts generate the most interaction.

Offensive and inappropriate comments

Directory-approved accounts will not post material that includes and will remove comments that include:

  • Abusive, derogatory, profane, obscene or similarly objectionable language.
  • Copyrighted material.
  • Spam, including deliberate repetition of comments.
  • Personal attacks, threats and insults.
  • Harassment, discrimination and bullying of any form.
  • For-profit promotions, business ads and commercial transactions.
  • Misinformation and potentially libelous statements.
  • Violations of confidentiality and privacy.
  • Links leading to material in the aforementioned categories.
  • Anonymous comments and reviews, or those posted with fake names, that fall into the aforementioned categories.

Some social media have comment filters. For help filtering profanity and blocking abusive commenters, see the following links: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Users committing comment violations, especially repeated violations, may be blocked from the university’s social media. University students, faculty and staff may be subject to discipline according to university conduct policies.

Outside Business Hours

Around the clock moderation of university-affiliated social media accounts is not possible. Administrators may not see inappropriate comments right away.

  • Users who see inappropriate material are discouraged from engaging those posting questionable material.
  • In an emergency situation, contact Campus Safety at 503-370-6911 (24 hours per day).

General rules for copyright

Unless you have explicit, written permission from the copyright holder:

  • Do not use copyrighted images, videos, music or text outside of the classroom.
  • Do not use copyrighted material on the university’s website, including on the calendar and in the Bearcat Bulletin.
  • Do not use copyrighted material on social media.
  • Providing attribution or credit to a source is not a substitute for obtaining permission.

Fair use

If you are using copyrighted material and plan to claim fair use, consider the following:

  • You may use copyrighted materials only for educational purposes, within the walls of a classroom.
  • You may use copyrighted materials for a limited and transformative purpose, such as commentary, criticism and parody.
  • If you are sharing or storing copyrighted materials online for classroom, the materials must be hosted on the university’s website behind the login, such as on WISE.
  • Once you leave the confines of the classroom or the password-protected sections of the website, you have a more difficult time claiming fair use.
  • More information on fair use
  • More information on filesharing

Public domain

You may use images, texts and recordings in a public forum if the copyright of the material has expired. You are responsible for doing the appropriate research to confirm material is in public domain. Here are a few resources:

University policies related to copyright

When posting on social media and the university’s website, Willamette students and employees will observe the university’s policies concerning copyright and intellectual property.


Contact Marketing and Communications if you are unable to determine whether you have permission to use something.

  • Design images and graphics: Mike Wright, creative director
  • Photo and video: Frank Miller, visual media manager
  • Social media, Bearcat Bulletin, online calendar: Tom Mayhall Rastrelli, director of digital communication
  • Legal assistance: Yvonne Tamayo, university general counsel

When posting on social media, be respectful of people’s personal boundaries and privacy. Ask people permission before posting their private information, photos and videos.

Students’ educational records — FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of students’ educational records.

When posting on social media, it is your responsibility to adhere to the university’s Education Records Policy and FERPA.

Guidelines for photographers, videographers and social media content-producers

When covering university events, photographers, videographers and social media content-producers must make a good faith effort to identify themselves and the fact they are recording the event.

  • Wear an official Willamette University name tag.
  • If possible, introduce yourself to the crowd at the start of the event.
  • If possible, personally introduce yourself to individuals after taking photos. This can be done when asking for someone’s name to put in a caption.
  • If filming in Sparks Center, consult the Sparks Photography/Filming Policy.

If someone asks not to be recorded or photographed

  • Kindly, inform them of the signage that said the event was being recorded.
  • If they do not want their photo used, delete it.

For event photography and recording

Organizers are encouraged to post signs at main entrances notifying attendees that photos, videos and other recordings will be taken. When feasible, notice may be given through event programs, via the ticket purchasing/distribution process or verbally at the opening of an event.

  • Language for signage, ticket purchase “Terms and Conditions” and verbal notice should include the following:

Willamette University Notice of Photographic and Media Recording: This Willamette University event is being photographed, video recorded or both. By attending, you consent to this recording and authorize Willamette University and its employees and agents to use your name, photograph, voice or other likeness for purposes related to the university’s mission, including but not limited to marketing, publicity, website and other social, print, electronic and broadcast media.

  • If there are additional notices that particular events demand, these can be printed in a second paragraph underneath the Notice of Photographic and Media Recording. For example:

The following are prohibited and grounds for dismissal from this event: signage, profane gestures and language, etc.

University logos, scripts and photos are reserved for use on social media accounts owned by and under the staff supervision of Willamette University’s offices and departments.
  • Those wishing to use an official university logo or script in a geofilter or similar item should contact the university’s creative director.
  • Those interested in using a photo owned by the university on social media should contact the university’s visual media manager.
  • Cover photos and university logos are available here for use on social media accounts owned by the university’s offices and departments.

If you are running a contest on social media, be sure to clearly define the rules of your contest on your social media. 

  • #WillamettePartner must be used with all social media posts related to contests. The Federal Trade Commission requires a hashtag to indicate that a user is participating in a sweepstakes or contest where social sharing takes place. 
  • If you ask followers post on behalf of your account and offer any sort of incentive, such as a prize, as part of the process, you must have users use #WillamettePartner in their posts.

Social media content producers should be familiar with these university resources.

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